DOTTIE ASHLEY: Local gallery spotlights longtime friends

“In Formation,” oil on canvas by Leslie Pratt-Thomas, will be on exhibit at the Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island.

What can a chicken do best?

Well, shake its tail feathers.

And "Shake a Tail Feather," a painting by Leslie Pratt-Thomas, recently shook up the judges enough to vote her into the Paint America Mini Top 50.

Also, Pratt-Thomas' oil on canvas, "Chicken Crosses the Road," was one of two of her paintings accepted into the Paint America Top 100 at the 2011 Southeastern Wildlife Expo.

Thousands of readers saw Pratt-Thomas' painting grace the cover of "Swimming Lessons," a novel by Mary Alice Monroe.

Pratt-Thomas' recent artwork and the paintings of prolific Sullivan's Island artist Beth McLean were unveiled Saturday night in the exhibition "Coastal Heritage: Our Bond With Nature," on view through Aug. 16 at the Sandpiper Gallery.

Centerpieces of the two-person show include McLean's painting, "Into the Sun," an image of a shrimp boat heading into the sunrise, and Pratt-Thomas' "Flaps Up," showing a pelican rising from the water.

The medium for both McLean and Pratt-Thomas is largely oil on canvas, but the two women are not competitive.

"Although we've been friends for a long time, this is the first time we have exhibited our artwork together," says McLean as she and Pratt-Thomas sip iced tea one afternoon in McLean's oceanfront home.

Oddly enough, both arrived in the Lowcountry for the same reason.

"Neither one of us came here because of a job," says Canadian-born Pratt-Thomas, who earned a sociology degree from Furman University in Greenville.

"We both moved here just to be near Charleston," explains Pinehurst, N.C., native McLean, who received a commercial art degree from the Art Institute of Florida in Fort Lauderdale before moving here in 1981.

With a master's degree in clinical counseling from Southern Illinois University, Pratt-Thomas worked with the Charleston Area Mental Health Center for eight years.

"In the late '80s, Leslie and I heard that artist Emmy Bronson was going to teach art classes on the island," says McLean. "We then lived near each other, and so decided to go together to the classes."

Through the years, both women participated in painting workshops locally and in New York, Mexico and France.

"I guess our style is 'realism with a touch of impressionism,' " says McLean.

Julie Sweat, owner of Sandpiper Gallery, 2019 Middle St. on Sullivan's Island, says the exhibition marks Sandpiper's 10th anniversary. She adds, "It's fitting the artwork in 'Coastal Heritage' celebrates our bond with nature, considering our coastal surroundings."

Pratt-Thomas and McLean exhibit at Sandpiper and at the Edward Dare Gallery downtown.

For Sandpiper Gallery hours, call 883-0200.

Redux deadline

Karen Ann Myers, director of the Redux Contemporary Art Center, 136 St. Philip St., says a final opportunity to apply for one of seven new private artist studios is Monday. Originally, the deadline was Friday.

"When artists work around other artists, a kind of synergy is created," explains Myers. "The Redux Studio Program offers full access to subsidized studios to emerging and midcareer artists.

"The 10,000-square-foot space is equipped with 22 individual artist studios to be rented with services, including 24-hour access to the Redux facility, free access to wireless Internet and opportunities to promote one's art through exhibitions," Myers adds.

To apply for a studio, call 722-0697 or go to

Glave to be honored

After appearing in 50 productions over 35 years, Gene Glave, a galvanizing force behind community theater, died of cancer July 6.

Excelling in comedies, dramas and musicals, Glave performed with the Footlight Players, Charleston Stage and the Pluff Mud Players, which briefly staged plays at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms.

In 2001, she saw her dream of having permanent live theater East of the Cooper come true when the Village Playhouse and Repertory Company was founded by Keely Enright and David Reinwald in Mount Pleasant.

"Right away, Gene and her husband, Dick, were here painting walls and hanging fixtures," recalls Enright. "During our scary first season, Gene stage-managed every show and was our greatest supporter."

In 2006, when Glave discovered she had breast cancer, Enright encouraged her to transform her experiences into a one-person play, "The Mammologues," which was staged at the Village Playhouse and toured in several states.

"Gene's last performance was in Las Vegas," says Dick Glave, president emeritus of the company. "Although pretty sick, she had a great time anyway."

Glave requested that donations honoring Gene be made to Village Repertory Company, 730 Coleman Blvd. Suite C, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464.

Julian Wiles, founder and artistic director of Charleston Stage, says, "Because Gene brought such expertise and enthusiasm to the stage, the theater community will honor her with a celebration of her life at a location and date to be announced."

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